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New York City Announces $23 Million More to Expand Arts Programs in 2014-2015

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced Tuesday a $23 million initiative to expand arts education in city schools and fund training for arts teachers in the upcoming school year.

The announcement was made at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, with City Comptroller Scott Stringer, whose office released a report in  April, "State of the Arts," which, as the name suggests, looked at arts programs in city schools and found that arts education was seriously "underfunded" and that the resources were "inequitably" distributed across the city.

For example, Stringer's office found that 28 percent of New York City schools did not have a full-time, certified arts teacher. In poorer parts of the outer boroughs, that number was even higher: More than 42 percent of the schools  that did not have either a full-time or part-time certified teacher were in the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn. 

The funds announced Tuesday attempt to address and rectify some of the deficiencies Stringer's office found and move ahead with some of the recommendations contained in the report.

The Mayor's Office said the money will go toward hiring 23 certified new arts teachers for middle and high schools that are underserved by arts programs; enhancing arts facilities across the city; and developing partnerships with the city's art institutions, such as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. It also includes funds for student programs, such as an intensive arts boot camp for middle school students, and to create partnerships between arts organizations with experience working with English-language learners and students with disabilities. 

"We want every child to feel the spark that comes from learning something they are passionate about," said de Blasio. "And so often, its taking up an instrument, honing an artistic craft, or performing for the first time that helps a young person come into their own for the first time. The investments we are making here won't just help our students explore music, dance and the arts. They will help these children grow in a way that helps them succeed in school and in life."

Stringer said the funds were "an important down payment in our ongoing effort to make sure that every city student, in every neighborhood, has access to a meaningful arts education.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña noted: "Expanding access to an arts education will help inspire students, build confidence, and deepen their critical thinking skills. By integrating a rigorous arts curriculum and art making into schools, we can provide hands-on learning experiences that help students thrive."

A breakdown of how some of the money is expected to be spent:

  • $5 million to hire 120 certified arts teachers. Of that, $4.7 million will go toward paying for 100 arts teachers who are trained in more than one discipline. They will be expected to work in 50 pairs of middle schools. And $360,000 to help train up to 20 teachers through a partnership with Hunter College of the City University of New York and the Lincoln Center Scholars Alternative Certification Program. The two-year program will be fully subsidized, and students will be eligible to apply for full-time positions in New York City schools while they are taking classes.     
  • $2 million to help schools with limited arts programs increase their offerings. Each borough will have an arts team that will coordinate with school leaders about resources and partnerships.
  • $7.5 million to upgrade arts facilities at schools, including lighting for auditoriums, installing or fixing dance floors, and repairing instruments. 
  • $3.1 million to create an "Arts Teacher Choice Fund" to help full-time arts teachers and schools buy studio materials and other necessary supplies.
  • $1.8 million to cover the cost of professional development for arts and classroom teachers, including for the first time, professional development for Early Childhood Learning Centers.

A full accounting of how the Mayor's Office intends to spend the money can be found here.

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